My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep (Psalm 121: 2-4).
Each year for the past few years, at Thanksgiving time, I try to think of things I am especially thankful for. Last year (2012) I wrote a thank you letter to God for my 15 beautiful and precious grandchildren. This year (2013) I am writing my thank you note to God to thank him for my husband of 42 years, Bob.
The past year has been a rough one, especially for Bob, but for me also. In October of 2012 he was diagnosed with a blood disease called Myelodysplastic Syndrome. It is a bone marrow disease in which the bone marrow no longer makes strong and healthy red blood cells. Red blood (Hemoglobin) is important because it carries oxygen to the organs of the body. We can’t live for long without it.
At this time last year Bob was needing 2-4 blood transfusions per week. It was a life saver for him but at the same time we wondered; how long can this go on? That many transfusions can lead to iron overload which can cause hardening of the muscles and other issues. Our muscles can’t function properly when they aren’t flexible. It would become especially critical if it were to affect the heart and lungs.
The other scary thing about his illness was that his blood count would drop on a dime. It may have been 10 one day and the next it would be down to 7. It even went as low as 6 several times. A normal blood count would be between 14 and 17. The fear was that his blood count would just drop out of sight and he would be gone.
The other problem low blood counts cause for him is Anemia which in turn causes Congestive Heart Failure. Anemia causes the heart to work extra hard to push the blood through and out to other parts of the body. But when there isn’t enough blood to go around it can’t pump efficiently. Fluid then builds up around the heart and lungs causing shortness of breath and low oxygen levels. When this happens it most often means a trip to the ER and a stay in the hospital for several days.
Thanks to Chemo Therapy his blood counts are staying up longer now and he is feeling a little better. He gets Chemo shots 7 days in a row and is then off for 21days. This will be repeated every month for the rest of his life. The seven days when he is receiving Chemo are rough. Then just when he begins to feel better again it is time to begin the next round.
So it has been a long, rough year for both of us. However, as compared to last year at this time his health is very much improved. His transfusions have gone from twice a week to once a month. There are many days when he doesn’t feel well, but his quality of life has definitely improved. There is no cure for his disease, but we are thankful for this time that God is giving him, and all of us as a family.
I am especially thankful also that through this trial God has grown and strengthened my faith. In the beginning I was an emotional wreck. I cried everyday worrying about what “might” happen and what “may” be in our future. I prayed for strength and comfort. God answered my prayer and gave me strength and comfort. I prayed that God would help me let go of the fear, and I can say with confidence that I am not afraid. I know that he will be with me and with Bob.
It is the “enemy” (Satan) and our own sinful nature which puts that fear in our hearts. Satan who senses our fear, whispers in our ear – You’ll never make it. You’re not strong enough. You can’t do it. He makes us think we can’t do it and in truth, we can’t do it alone. But those who trust in the Lord need never worry what this life may bring because God has promised to always be with us. That doesn’t mean that life will be easy or that bad things will never happen. But it does mean that when bad/sad things do happen he will be with us and give us the strength to endure. Jesus’ promise to his disciples is for us also; And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28: 20)
Don’t let your fear overcome your faith. Remember Peter? – During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake…It’s a ghost, they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus said to them; take courage! it is I.
Don’t be afraid…Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt? (Matthew 14: 25-31)
What a comfort it is to know that when our fear becomes stronger than our faith (and because we are human we know that will happen at times) and we begin to sink, Jesus will reach out and grab the rope of faith which attaches us to him and pull us to safety just like he reached out to Peter so long ago on that stormy lake. He won’t let us sink. He will strengthen us and give us the courage we need to face whatever trials come our way.
The Lord is the everlasting God…He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40: 28-31)
Thank you Lord for your promise to never leave me and for your continual presence in my life. Take away my fear and replace it with faith in your promises. Help me to remember that death is not the end, but the beginning of my life with you in heaven. What a wonderful comfort that is for all who love you and believe in you. Give Bob courage also and keep him mindful of the fact that whatever the future holds for him he wins. If he remains here in this life, we will be thankful. If you chose to call him home he will be in paradise with you forever. Keep us always connected to you Jesus, through faith. Amen.